Monday, March 18, 2019

Canada extends Ukraine military mission against alarming backdrop of rising fascism and neo-Nazism

Bandera banner at Ukrainian torchlight nationalist march
Greatly overshadowed by other news out of Ottawa the Trudeau government today announced its decision to extend the Canadian military mission to Ukraine until at least 2022. Chrystia Freeland -- who notoriously celebrated her Ukrainian grandfather's nationalist past despite the fact that he was a Nazi collaborator -- stated that the mission "allows us to meet Ukraine's needs and to offer new forms of support as Ukraine needs them." 

Last August The Left Chapter reported on how Canada had also allowed the sale of highly advanced sniper rifles to Ukraine.

This all comes despite and against an increasingly alarming backdrop of rising fascism and neo-Nazism in the country. As Lev Golinkin wrote of Ukraine in The Nation in February
There are neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.
These stories of Ukraine’s dark nationalism aren’t coming out of Moscow; they’re being filed by Western media, including US-funded Radio Free Europe (RFE); Jewish organizations such as the World Jewish Congress and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and watchdogs like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House, which issued a joint report warning that Kiev is losing the monopoly on the use of force in the country as far-right gangs operate with impunity.
Five years after Maidan, the beacon of democracy is looking more like a torchlight march.
Swastika in a Kiev mall just prior to nationalist marches
in February
He further noted that Ukraine's military, with which Canadian forces will be working, "is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces. The Azov Battalion was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriot of Ukraine."

One would have thought that that alone would have given Canadian leaders pause. But there is much more.

Last year the Ukrainian army adopted the slogan "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!", which originated with nationalist groups who collaborated with the Nazis during WWII.

Pogroms initiated by paramilitary groups against the country's Roma have been met with indifference on the part of the police and authorities generally. The situation is so bad that the European Roma Rights Centre launched a suit in 2018 against Ukrainian police for failing to act.

As Newsweek reported in December "Ukraine’s parliament has officially designated the birthday of a prominent Nazi collaborator as a national holiday, while also banning a book that criticized another anti-Semitic national leader." That collaborator was Stepan Bandera who the post-Maidan regime has celebrated by naming streets after him and erecting a variety of statues in his honour, all while tearing down those dedicated to people who died fighting Hitler. 

New Bandera statue in Lviv

 In January Michael Colborne wrote in the Socialist Project Bullet that:
Ukraine really does have a far-right problem, and it’s not a fiction of Kremlin propaganda. And it’s well past time to talk about it.
Ukraine’s far-right is like a hydra, with ugly heads that pop-up far too frequently. Just within the last few weeks, an American-born cabinet minister thanked a group of violent neo-Nazi “activists” for their services, a soldier was photographed wearing a Nazi death’s head patch right behind President Petro Poroshenko and almost 1,500 neo-Nazis and friends threw a two-day Hitler-salute-fest.
Perhaps it is time for Canadians to ask why, in spite of all this, our government continues to arm and train the military of a regime with such dangerous and extremist far-right links and ties.

 Further Readings:

Canada green lights arms sales to Ukraine as fascist militias attack Roma

Secrets and Lies -- Chrystia Freeland's grandfather and collaborating with the Nazis

Why Does No One Care That Neo-Nazis Are Gaining Power In Ukraine?

Neo-Nazis and the Far Right Are On the March in Ukraine

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